ON the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Melbourne Beth Din (MBD) has clarified the halachic position with regards to the use of Zoom and online services on Shabbat and Yom Tov, issuing a statement which forbids the use of the platform and other forms of electronic communication.
“Not being able to attend communal services is extremely painful. However, participating in a Skype, Zoom or similar broadcast on Shabbat or Yom Tov, even if set up beforehand, involves inevitably doing the type of creative activities on the Shabbat and Yom Tov itself that is simply not permitted according to the accepted traditional principles and teachings of our faith,” the statement read.
The statement echoed sentiments expressed in a letter to the Melbourne Jewish Community from Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau who implored, “It is important to reiterate that it is impossible to connect via computer or telephone without desecrating the Holy Day.”
Rather, the MBD has urged community members to register with Project High Holy Days (PHH).
On Sunday, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) announced that Department of Health and Human Services representatives have accepted a proposed set of protocols that will allow members of the Jewish community to hear the shofar in public parks, outside shules and on neighbourhood streets on Sunday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
400 volunteers are hitting the street to deliver the mitzvah of Shofar to over 1,200 people who have already signed up…
“Trained volunteers will be allocated scheduled walking routes and times to blow shofar outside homes throughout Melbourne. Members of the community will be afforded the opportunity of hearing shofar whilst remaining within their own properties,” said RCV president Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn.
He added that members of the community who live in outlying areas of Jewish Melbourne will be able to book to hear shofar at various parks, while observing strict timetabling and social distancing.
Already PHH has recruited 500 volunteer shofar-blowers and received more than 1200 shofar blowing requests, with the number expected to increase beyond 2000.
Rabbi Heilbrunn enthused, “Instead of you coming to the synagogue to hear the shofar, the shofar will come to you!”
For more information on where you can hear the shofar, visit phh.org.au.